I had begged my mother the morning of orientation to let me stay home, since it wasn’t like it was mandatory.
I was not excited about college. I was not excited about a 9:15 am check in time. I was not excited that I lived a hour and a half away from said college, plus the hour that it takes me to get ready for my day.
I woke up at 5:30 am with less than a hour of sleep under my belt, as nerves had interrogated me all night long. I threw on a maroon tie-dye tanked, black and grey striped skirt, black knee highs, and my beloved pair of white Doc Martens. With a swipe of eyeliner and a pinch of champagne eyeshadow in the inner corner of my eyes to make me appear more awake than I actually was, my mother drove me to college, while I nervously listened to empowering songs — you know, stuff from My Chemical Romance, Green Day, Linkin Park, The Pretty Reckless, etc. I looked good, had a killer playlist, and a stomach full of butterflies.
We arrived at Orientation, and I went to check in, only to find out that I apparently needed my health form to be turned in that day. So, I wasn’t necessarily starting off on the right foot. They gave me an ID card, room key, and I hauled my overnight bags up to my dorm for the night. I set up my stuff, realized that I had forgotten a towel (shoutout to my mom for running to Walmart for me, and even bringing Starbucks frappuccino bottles and a bag of Boom Chicka Pop), and went to leave for the auditorium, just as this girl with a cat shirt and blue hair was entering the room. While I probably should have took that opportunity to introduce myself, my introverted self just held the door open, smiled, and went about my ways.
Thankfully, there was refreshments (COFFEE!!) before I entered the auditorium, but that still didn’t make me feel any better about this situation. When I originally applied to colleges, this school had not been on my list. I only applied here after I found out that while accepted to my dream school, it was way too expensive. I didn’t want to stay local — I wanted to get as far away from home as I could. So while I tried to maintain a positive attitude and tried to remain open to the school, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that I shouldn’t be there. It probably didn’t help that the one speaker tried to relate to us by putting her points in terms of emojis to be more “relatable.”
Or the fact that I am now apparently a Wildcat (getcha head in the game).
The time came for parents and students to split up, so I chugged the last few sips of my coffee, and followed all of the students to another building for another presentation. I found myself sitting alone at the very end of the aisle, my hands gripping tightly to my phone. Around me, the hall was filled with laughter and conversations from people who seemed to have been friends for years. About five seats down from me sat a girl, also by herself, with her eyes glued to her phone. I debated going to talk to her, but then the health presentation started. Then, another presentation. And another.
And then we had a small break, while they worked on opening up some files to present to us. This is when I decided to make my move. I marched my anxiety down to the girl and said, “Hi.” For me, this was an extremely bold move on my part, and I already felt more comfortable. Sure, I didn’t see her for the rest of the evening, but those few minutes of conversation and smiles boosted my spirits and confidence. Sometimes stepping outside of your comfort zone can be extremely beneficial, so I continued to push myself.
Fast forward, we split up into groups, did some get to know you activities, and then, it was finally lunch time. Only problem was that all of the food was set up underneath a tent outside, and not only was it lightning/thundering outside but there was also a tornado warning. Through the storm we ran to grab our food and huddle back inside. I absolutely despise being wet, but I tried not to make a big deal out of it as I followed my one team leader and some team members to a lunch table. I found myself sitting across from a girl with blue hair, who I recognized as the girl I held the door open for as I was leaving the dorm room. Another girl from my group sat next to me, and the three of us began to talk, finding out that we were all art majors. Now by this point, I had felt a little more comfortable having talked to a few people. After a dozen more powerpoint presentations, dinner came, we were visited by the Dating Doctor, who gave us the talk, and then, it was time for the party.
I had joined the two girls that I had met at lunch, and we met another girl, who — you guessed it — is also an art major. In that moment, all of my insecurities and worries from the past few nights had completely vanished. It was then that we took a look at our colored hair and extensions, crazy (in the best of ways) outfits, and funky jewelry when we realized that we were (1) definitely art majors and (2) about to become fast friends.
We went to get henna done on our arms, and attempted to take an artsy Instagram photo.
We took the Captain America stand-up to the green screen, chose the most “extra” background that we could find, and ended up with a meme-worthy “awkward family photo” that will definitely be uploaded to Redbubble so we can buy throw pillows and tapestries with it on.
While most people would have looked at the picture, and asked if the photographer could retake it, we found it perfect. The fact that there is a floating head at the bottom, that one person is almost hidden, and that all of us look miserable out of minds is what makes it so hysterical. Not to mention, the random Captain America and explosion of color behind all this mess. It is this picture that I know will both haunt and shape us as we move forward in our college careers. Terrible, cringy pictures are exactly how memories are made.
Plus, who could forget the fact that we tried to find an Oscar shaped cookie leftover from dinner to give to the Leonardo DiCaprio stand-up?! Unfortunately, we failed in that mission.
But we had officially won once we all returned to the dorm I was sharing with the blue-haired girl. There may have been a fan casualty, causing me to die of heat all night long, but our inspiring Cards Against Humanity game completely makes up for it. (Let’s just not mention the disappointing pizza that was delivered to each dorm floor, okay?)
The next morning, we met up for breakfast, and then went about the itinerary with our groups, taking in loads of information, trying to figure how in the world we wouldn’t get lost come September. Fortunately, the two girls I had sat with at lunch have the same four classes in common with me, while the girl we met at the party has three of those classes in common. Sure, we might get lost, but we’ll get lost together.
Look, I completely understand how daunting the idea of attending orientation may be, but by the first lunch, I had transformed from already planning my drop-out plan to dying of anticipating for move-in day. I’m not saying that the rest of the college experience is going to be some flawless adventure with my perfect group of awkward friends. I’m sure the four of us will drift at some point, and find each other again — all friends do at some point, for better or worse. Perhaps by the end of September, we will find new groups of friends. Maybe we will stay inseparable.
All I know is that I would have missed out big time had I not attended orientation. I would still be dreading the beginning of September, and feeling completely lonely, like I wouldn’t make any friends. Fortunately, that was not the case. Now, my phone is blowing up from our group chats and I feel both confident and prepared to take on the first day.
So, go to your school’s orientation, try something new, something outside of your comfort zone, and see what happens.